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... Not! is a grammatical construction in the English language used as a function word to make negative a group of words or a word. It became a sardonic catchphrase in North America and elsewhere in the 1990s. A declarative statement is made, followed by a pause, and then an emphatic "not!" adverb is postfixed. The result is a negation of the original declarative statement.
According to the above, the phrase, "He is a nice guy... not!" is synonymous to "He is not a nice guy". Whereas the latter structure is a neutral observation, the former expresses rather an annoyance, and is most often used jocularly.
Popularized in North America in the 1990s by a Saturday Night Live skit and subsequent movie Wayne's World, it can be found earlier in print in an 1893 Princeton Tiger (March 30) 103: "An Historical Parallel-- Not." A 1905 usage is in Dream of the Rarebit Fiend by Winsor McCay. It was selected as the 1992 Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society.
The "Not!" catchphrase was the basis of a scene in the 2006 movie Borat where a lecturer in humour attempted to explain the grammatical construction to Borat with limited success.
The comedic utility of the word became apparent, again, in February 2011 in Canada, when a minister of the Crown, Bev Oda, was implicated in a scandal that saw her deny knowledge of the insertion of the word "not" on a legal document denying funding to a respected non-profit organization and offer no explanation as to how her signature appeared on the document. Normal procedure would have been not to sign the approval document. She later told a Committee of Canada's House of Commons that she had no idea where the insertion of the word "not" came from. Weeks later, she claimed that she ordered its insertion. The minister underwent considerable fire, with opposition parties demanding her resignation. She resigned on July 3, 2012.
- Privative, a particle that inverts the meaning of the word stem to which it is affixed
- Clark, Campbell (February 16, 2011). "In wake of Oda controversy, Ottawa must explain why aid decisions are made". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on February 21, 2011.
- Postfix Not! in English
- "1992 Words of the Year". American Dialect Society. January 13, 1993. Archived from the original on June 15, 2006.
- Jesse T Sheidlower; Jonathan E. Lighter (Summer 1993). "A Recent Coinage (Not!)". American Speech. 68 (2): 213–218. doi:10.2307/455678. JSTOR 455678.
- William Safire (March 8, 1992). "On Language; Not!". The New York Times Magazine. p. 20.